The Town of Lake Cowichan has a new emergency plan.
Council voted unanimously at its meeting on July 28 to adopt the plan, the development of which began after the major windstorm that struck the region in December, 2018.
Acting Mayor Tim McGonigle said the new plan gives Lake Cowichan the ability to better determine its own courses of action in the event of an emergency, and to collaborate with surrounding communities to come up with the best response.
“We’ve decided that a collaborative approach is the best when determining the most appropriate response after an emergency strikes,” he said.
The town will now establish an emergency program management committee that will be required to meet at least every six months and include the mayor, who will be its chairperson, the town’s chief administrative officer, superintendent of public works and engineering services, director of finance, fire chief and representatives from the RCMP and BC Ambulance Service.
Amongst the duties of the committee is to enter into agreements with other regional districts and municipalities for the purpose of emergency assistance and the formulation of coordinated emergency preparedness, response or recovery, and to enter into agreements for the provision of goods and services during an emergency.
The committee will also be responsible for the ongoing assessments of hazards, risks and vulnerabilities in Lake Cowichan during an emergency, and evaluating the progress of the emergency program annually.
Overall, approximately 30,000 BC Hydro customers in the Cowichan Valley area lost power during the windstorm in 2018, making the region one of the hardest hit areas in the province during the storm, which saw wind gusts up to 120 km/h take down trees and power lines.
Lake Cowichan and its surrounding communities were without power and resources for a considerable period of time and a lot of people in the town, as well as surrounding areas like Honeymoon Bay and Youbou, were unsure as to what to do, where to go, and who was responsible for what.
There is a regional plan in place for people to access during emergencies that is available on the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s website, but the plan doesn’t specifically deal with what people should do in Lake Cowichan and the surrounding areas.
Just weeks after the windstorm, the town, the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce, the CVRD and other organizations began holding meetings regarding emergency preparedness in the area, and began taking steps that led to council’s decision to adopt the new emergency plan.
The plan also calls for the establishment of an emergency operations centre, and one is planned to be part of the ongoing renovations at the town hall.
“The renovations at town hall are not expected to be completed until the end of the year, and we’ll use the Lake Cowichan Recreation Centre as the emergency operations centre if we have an emergency before then,” McGonigle said.